When the Phillies took Aaron Brown in the third round of the 2014 draft there was a lot of controversy about their decision to make him a full time outfielder. In the field Brown was an average center fielder, but spectacular in the corners. He showed plus raw power and a solid arm. The problem was his swing and miss. Ultimately that caught up to him and Mike Drago of the Reading Eagle broke the story that he is transitioning back to pitching. Go read Mike’s story here (or Google the title and it should come up). He has a lot of great quotes from Joe Jordan about the transition and the room when they drafted Brown.
So what does Aaron Brown look like as a pitcher? I don’t know. Here is what Baseball America said on draft day 3 years ago.
Scouts widely agree that he is a top-four-rounds talent as both a pitcher and an outfielder, and they are divided about where he fits best. Off the mound, he is physical, athletic and aggressive and attacks hitters with an 89-91 mph fastball that bumps 92-93. His ability to throw quality strikes with his fastball has improved, and his 82-85 mph slider has become a plus pitch with good depth, generating swing-throughs against righties and lefties. He mixes in a changeup that has a chance to be an average pitch and gives him a chance to start, though some scouts still see him as a better fit in the bullpen because of his fair command.
Based on his throws in the outfield, his arm strength is still intact and I wouldn’t be surprised is he ends up throwing a little bit harder when focusing on pitching full time (and especially if he is in a bullpen role). We won’t have anyway of knowing how his secondary pitches look until he is on a mound in front of scouts, but in a bullpen role all he would need is the slider. Given that his arm isn’t built up and the timeline only looks like 6-8 weeks of work before pitching for an affiliate, it would make sense for the Phillies to have work out of the bullpen to begin with. The simplest path is as a LOOGY, but he had the pitches to be a #4 starter with a small chance at being a #3 when he was drafted so there is a lot of upside here. It is an interesting experiment and it will be exciting to see what he looks like when he is a mound this summer.
Photo by Baseball Betsy